Best Entry-Level Luxury Watch: Top 10 Picks
There are a plethora of prestigious watch brands out there selling sophisticated luxury watches, and all of them are very different. Whether it is the price tag that accompanies the watch, the complications that are offered or lack thereof, or even the designs used, there is an incredible amount of variety available when it comes to luxury wristwatches. And if you are just starting to explore the world of horology, it can definitely be a somewhat overwhelming task looking for the perfect luxury piece that suits your tastes and budget.
If you are a newbie looking to make your first luxury watch purchase, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will go through the definition of what is considered an entry-level luxury watch, everything that makes a great entry-level luxury watch, along with the 10 best entry-level luxury watches in the market. With this knowledge under your belt, you will be ready to start your luxury watch collection.
What Defines a Luxury Watch?
Whether you ask an expert watch collector or even a professional watchmaker, you will find that there is no real, official definition of what a luxury watch truly is. However, generally speaking, a timepiece can be classified as a luxury watch if it is manually crafted from top-notch materials, designed into an extremely high-quality piece, and offered at a premium price and value.
Luxury watches in the industry and mostly made by reputable Swiss watch brands, which are all known for their expertise in watchmaking and long years of experience and heritage. Brands such as Rolex, TAG Heuer, and Omega are some of the most well-known, highly-respected luxury watch brands. That said, while they might be less familiar to newbies in the watch community, other names such as Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe also offer a wide range of luxury watches for your choosing.
What Defines an Entry-Level Luxury Watch?
As with luxury watches, there is no clear definition of what counts as an entry-level luxury watch. In general, one might say that entry-level luxury watches are classified as the simplest and most affordable models from a luxury brand’s collection. For instance, an entry-level Rolex would be their simplest and most accessible timepiece, the Datejust, which is priced at around $6,000 to $7,000 USD. To better understand what an entry-level luxury watch is, we have listed some of the general characteristics that a watch should have to be classified as such. Keep in mind, however, that considering the continuous debate over and fluidity of this term, some of these details are not necessarily applicable to all entry-level luxury watches.
An entry-level luxury watch should:
- Be made with masterful craftsmanship using high-quality, premium materials.
- Have a sense of luxury. Remember that a luxury feel is not just a generic term, but it should be something that an owner must feel while wearing the timepiece. For instance, clean details and a pristine finish can help a watch look more aesthetic and luxurious.
- Have excellent quality and reliability. Part of being an entry-level luxury watch involves owners getting their money’s worth for their watch.
- Be priced on the lower end of a reputable luxury watch brand’s catalog.
10 Best Entry-Level Luxury Watches
With so many options in the market, we know that it can be a bit difficult to decide which entry-level luxury timepiece you should opt for. For that reason, we have curated a list of the 10 best entry-level luxury watches currently available in the market for you.
1. TAG Heuer Carrera Ref. WAR201B.FC6291
First on the list is the TAG Heuer Carrera Ref, WAR201B.FC6291. This watch comes from the enormous catalog of TAG Heuer, a luxury brand famous for its top-notch, highly-precise chronograph watches and suave sports watches. TAG Heuer has existed for more than 150 years with an impeccable reputation, so you know you can rely on the timepieces from this brand.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Ref. WAR201B.FC6291, in particular, is a quintessential luxury dress watch. It comes in a 41mm brushed stainless steel case, paired with a crocodile leather strap in dark brown which enhances the watch’s handsome look. Its striking yet minimalist watch face consists of a fixed stainless steel bezel and a clean silver dial with luminous silver-tone tick hands, hour indices, and a day-date aperture that is outlined with silver. The dial is protected with a layer of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. This watch is driven by the brand’s in-house Calibre 05 movement, which has a 38-hour power reserve.
This TAG Heuer Carrera watch instantly stands out with its simple yet classy elegance, making it one of the best entry-level luxury watches from the brand. It is available at just $2,299 USD.
2. Omega Speedmaster Ref. 322.214.171.124.01.001
Next up, the Omega Speedmaster Ref. 3126.96.36.199.01.001 is one of the most iconic timepieces that any watch enthusiast would proudly wear. This Omega Speedmaster piece is an all-rounder chronograph watch that is among the top entry-level luxury watches in the market.
It shows off a rugged and masculine aesthetic with its polished stainless steel case and matching three-link stainless steel bracelet. These perfectly contrast against the grandiose black dial, which is furnished with silver-tone hour indices, bold luminous arrow-shaped hands, and a grey chronograph display with a small seconds sub-dial, a 30-minute counter, and a 12-hour counter. The rotating bezel of the watch comes in stainless steel and is marked with a handy tachymeter scale in black.
Omega also uses the first-class Calibre 3133 movement to power this watch, which wearers can view using the transparent, skeletal caseback. This movement can run for up to 52 hours when fully wound and provides the watch with 100m of water resistance.
You can purchase the Omega Speedmaster Ref. 3188.8.131.52.01.001 for around $4,559.
3. Breitling Chronomat Ref. AB014012/BA52
Like the previous model, the Breitling Chronomat Ref. AB014012/BA52 is a robust, multifunctional chronograph watch packed to the brim with useful features. It comes from the watchmaker Breitling, which made a name for itself crafting incredibly reliable, luxurious aviation watches loved by pilots.
This Breitling Chronomat watch comes with a 44mm stainless steel case and a sporty five-link bracelet made of the same material. Its case, bracelet, and thick lugs are all finely polished, giving the watch a sleek, gleaming exterior. Its striking black dial is filled with thick luminous hour indices and sword-shaped hands, along with a chronograph display with three white sub-dials for the small seconds, 12-hour, and 30-minute counters. Fitted on top of the case is a stainless steel bezel engraved with large indicators for the tachymeter scale and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
This watch is equipped with the top-notch in-house Calibre 01 which has an outstanding 70-hour power reserve. You can get your hands on this excellent entry-level luxury watch for approximately $4,489 USD.
4. Rolex Datejust Ref. 178240-BKRJ
This list of best entry-level luxury watches would not be complete without a timepiece from Rolex. This Swiss watch brand is perhaps the most renowned watchmaker in the world, with even beginners in the horology community knowing its name. Its watches are highly sought after for their elegance, luxury, and ever-increasing value.
In particular, the Rolex Datejust Ref. 178240-BKRJ is one of the classiest, most versatile, and affordable timepieces in the Rolex lineup. This watch shows off a simple, quintessential style, with a slim 31mm Oystersteel case and a matching five-link Oystersteel bracelet. Its stark black bezel is adorned with luminous stick hands, bold Roman numeral hour indices, and a magnified date window at 3 o’clock. The case is also fitted with a fixed Oystersteel bezel and a domed sapphire crystal with a cyclops lens for the date display. Underneath the dial, you can find a first-class Calibre 2235 movement with a solid 48 hours of power reserve.
This Rolex Datejust watch retails at a price of $6,679 USD.
5. Panerai Luminor Ref. PAM00978
If you enjoy minimalist aesthetics, then check out the Panerai Luminor Ref. PAM00978. Panerai is an Italian brand that has been highly regarded for its stand-out luxury watch collections that perfectly blend traditional watchmaking techniques with unique, innovative artistry and designs.
The Panerai Luminor Ref. PAM00978, which is considered one of the brand’s signature models, boasts a stunning all-white aesthetic. It is highly recognisable with its 44mm cushion-shaped stainless steel case, large flat crown, and signature oversized semicircle crown guard. This is paired with a layer of sapphire crystal that keeps the dial safe, a professional three-link bracelet also made of stainless steel, and a matching, exquisite silver dial.
The silver dial of this Panerai Luminor watch comes with slim silver-tone hands, luminous hour indices, rounded Arabic numeral markers, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a small seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock. The bright blue hand of the sub-dial serves to add a splash of vibrant colour to this all-silver piece. Underneath the dial, you can find the brand’s own P.9000 movement, which has a 30m water resistance capacity and an incredible 72-hour power reserve. You can view this movement at work through the watch’s transparent caseback.
You can get this watch for approximately $6,959 USD.
6. Chopard Happy Diamonds Ref. 278559-3001
When it comes to truly breathtaking, lavish timepieces, there is no watchmaker that can match up to Chopard. This is one of the renowned Swiss watch brands known for manufacturing high-calibre, luxurious time-telling pieces. In particular, Chopard gained popularity for being named the first-ever watchmaker to perfectly incorporate diamonds into its watches, a trend that has continued over the years.
The Chopard Happy Diamonds Ref. 278559-3001 is one of the brand’s best creations, boasting opulence and sophistication. This watch features a slender 36mm stainless steel case with a mid-sized crown, a fixed stainless steel bezel, and a black alligator leather strap. The highlight of this Chopard Happy Diamonds piece is, of course, its glamorous silver dial, which is decorated with a guilloché-worked finish, slim sword hands, bold Roman numeral markers, and an array of six gorgeous diamonds that swing freely along the rim of the dial.
This watch is also powered by a first-class Calibre 278559-3001, which is held together by a total of 25 jewels and has a frequency of 28,800 VpH. This automatic movement is able to run for up to 42 hours when fully wound and can be seen through the skeletal caseback on the underside of the watch.
The Chopard Happy Diamonds Ref. 278559-3001 has a retail price of $5,749 USD.
7. IWC Portofino Ref. IW391023
Founded by American watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones, IWC is yet another well-known luxury watch brand. Although it built its prestigious reputation by crafting top-notch, industry-standard aviation watches, IWC also offers luxury watches at a wide range of prices, including some entry-level luxury pieces that any watch enthusiast is sure to love.
One exceptionally suave and reliable model is the IWC Portofino Ref. IW391023. This Portofino variant was released for the company’s 150th anniversary and is part of its famous Jubilee collection. It comes in a 42mm stainless steel case, which delightfully contrasts the watch’s classy alligator leather strap in black. The star of this timepiece is its eye-catching and masculine deep blue dial, which consists of slim hour indices, silver-tone leaf hands, a day-date aperture at 3 o’clock, and a chronograph display with three sub-dials. A powerful IWC Calibre 79320 also ticks inside this watch, with 25 jewels and a 44-hour power reserve.
You can get your hands on this watch for approximately $5,749 USD.
8. Tudor Black Bay Ref. 79733N-0006
Known for being the sister brand of Rolex, Tudor pieces boast designs that are just as stylish as Rolex watches, but at much more affordable prices. And if you are looking for an elegant, nostalgia-inspired timepiece, look no further, as the Tudor Black Bay collection has numerous offerings for you to pick from. One particularly distinctive, best-selling piece is the Tudor Black Bay Ref. 79733N-0006.
This Tudor Black Bay watch has a 41mm stainless steel case paired with a vintage-looking brown fabric strap. Its unidirectional rotating bezel is made from luxurious yellow gold and has a black anodised aluminium insert that is marked with an elapsed time scale in gold. This bezel blends perfectly with the watch’s rustic champagne sunburst dial, which is adorned with the signature Black Bay snowflake hands and luminous geometric indices. Tudor also powers this watch with its in-house MT5612 movement, which has a solid 70-hour power reserve.
The Tudor Black Bay Ref. 79733N-0006 is offered at a very fair price of just $3,849 USD.
9. Cartier Drive de Cartier Ref. WSNM0009
A brand that is home to exquisite, tasteful luxury watches that you can accessorise with is Cartier. This watchmaker is famous not just for producing watches, but also for being one of the most prestigious jewellery manufacturers in the world. Frequently patronised by royalty and celebrities alike, Cartier watches are especially popular with women, and can often be seen at fancy dinner parties and events.
One great entry-level luxury watch from the brand is the Cartier Drive de Cartier Ref. WSNM0009, which is an elegant, classic timekeeper. This watch comes in a 41mm polygon-shaped stainless steel case paired with a traditional black alligator leather strap. This pairs well with the dark grey dial, which consists of slender sword hands, bold Roman numeral hour markers, a date aperture, and a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. In addition, this Drive de Cartier watch is powered by a first-class Cartier Calibre 1904-PS MC movement, with a 48-hour power reserve and a 30m depth rating.
You can purchase the Cartier Drive de Cartier Ref. WSNM0009 for approximately $5,899 USD.
10. Longines The Longines Master Collection Ref. L26734785
Last on our list of best entry-level luxury watches is the Longines The Longines Master Collection Ref. L26734785. This is an exquisite, highly functional timepiece from the ever-growing Swiss watchmaker Longines.
The Longines Master Collection L26734785 has a certain nostalgic charm. It comes in a 40mm stainless steel case, paired with an aged alligator leather strap in brown and a soft white dial that enhances the watch’s vintage look. The white dial is packed to the brim with complications. It features stylised Arabic numeral hour markers, blued steel leaf hands, a half-moon central hand that indicates the date display found on the rim of the dial, and a chronograph display. This chronograph display consists of a small seconds sub-dial with a 24-hour counter, a 30-minute counter with a day-of-the-week and month aperture inside, and a tasteful moon phase indicator.All of these complications are powered by the brand’s in-house Calibre L687 movement. This calibre delivers approximately 42 hours of power reserve and a frequency of 28,800 VpH. You can get all these features for just $2,649 USD.
Owning a luxury watch from a prestigious brand like Rolex, TAG Heuer, or Longines is a source of pride for many. However, it is undeniable that the sophisticated luxury pieces from these reputable brands require a certain sum of money that many people cannot afford. This is why some people opt to purchase the so-called entry-level luxury watch. These watches are classified as the more basic, affordable models in a luxury watchmaker’s catalog.
However, do not be deceived into thinking these entry-level luxury watches are sub-par timepieces. They are still extremely reliable and pleasing to the eye, crafted from premium materials, with expert craftsmanship from well-established luxury watchmakers. If you want to own a luxury watch, but are new to the industry, or do not have that big a budget, then going for one of the entry-level luxury watches listed above could be one of the greatest decisions you ever make.
All images courtesy of TheWatchCompany.com.
Featured image courtesy to Shane Lin on Flickr.
Looking for some tips before buying your first-ever luxury watch? Have some time to read our article about 10 Things to Note Before investing in luxury watches.